Misericordia women to celebrate silver jubilee at Heart of Gold

Those who have tirelessly worked and volunteered alongside Sister Rosemary Connelly over her many decades of service have undoubtably heard her share her passionate thoughts on Misericordia Heart of Mercy's mission: "Those living with disabilities not only have a right to life, they have a right to a life worth living."

With a dedication to service spanning more than five decades, Connelly has devoted herself to the century-old nonprofit, which cares for more than 600 children and adults living with developmental disabilities.

And while Connelly last month stepped down as Misericordia's executive director, she will lead fundraising efforts for the organization as well as continue to inspire her dedicated league of women.

"It is inspiring to walk through the Misericordia campus and see the life-changing work that takes place there supporting our most vulnerable community members, while offering them a chance at a life they might not typically have," said Stephanie Clark, Misericordia Women's League member and one of the many who Connelly has inspired to serve.

For Misericordia, milestones are being met joyously on many fronts - from the centennial anniversary of its founding in 1921 to the Women's League's 25th anniversary celebration. The League was formed right here in the western suburbs in 1996 by four women and has now grown to more than 150 members. While COVID put a damper on the official in-person celebration last year, the Heart of Gold Silver Jubilee celebration will take place in person next month.

"The League celebrated its true 25th anniversary in 2021, but because we weren't able to celebrate in person last year, we knew we wanted to honor that impressive milestone with a proper celebration this year," added Clark, who is chairing the event along with League members Amy Allegra and Cathy Murphy and League President Lisa Cruse.

The annual Heart of Gold Benefit is the largest fundraiser for the League, with more than 600 guests expected to attend. Over the past 25 years, the League has raised nearly $7 million for Misericordia, with a staggering $780,000 raised virtually last year.

Fundraising efforts continue to enable Misericordia to expand its ever-growing residential spaces to accommodate the number of individuals seeking to call Misericordia home. The organization just opened its 14th Community Integrated Living Arrangement, offsite staffed living quarters for residents in close proximity to the main Misericordia campus. Development is also underway to build houses on a 3.5-acre property to the south of the main campus.

Additionally, construction is almost complete on the Hearts & Flour Drive-Thru Bakery and Café, with an opening goal of early 2022, pending COVID.

And year after year, Heart of Gold recognizes an outstanding philanthropist to receive the benefit's namesake award. This year Gretchen McCarty and her husband, Tim, are the recipients. Over the past 12 years, McCarty has served as League president and has chaired Heart of Gold as well as many other Misericordia fundraisers, including the upcoming paddle tennis tournament Cupid Courts, set for Feb. 4.

"Misericordia Home is a wonderful place, unlike no other," McCarty said. "When you are on their campus, you feel the love and compassion all around you, and the purpose of each resident. It embraces you; the whole campus draws you in - such devotion to give these residents the best life possible."

Heart of Gold will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb, 25 at the Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort, with a program celebrating Misericordia's mission with remarks by Connelly, Misericordia Executive Director Father Jack Clair and others.

The program will be Livestreamed from 8 to 9 p.m. for those unable to attend. Misericordia guests will enjoy cocktails, dinner and dancing along with a raffle and live and silent auctions.

To purchase tickets, which are $225 a person, please visit https://www.heartofgoldbenefit.org. Guests will kindly be asked to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at the door.

- Alexis Braden of Hinsdale is the paper's society columnist.

Readers can email her at

[email protected].